The Bregado Flax Educational Centre - Secondary Division with Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron V. Walwyn.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
The Bregado Flax Educational Centre (BFEC) emerged as the 2013 Secondary School Debate champion by defeating Claudia Creque Educational Centre last evening, March 13 on the moot, 'An additional year should be added to the Secondary Schools' requirement for graduation'.
Although opposing the moot, BFEC's Kadijah Roberts and Johanna Gibson took a huge gamble by agreeing with the additional year, but throughout the debate they sought to establish their position that the additional year should not be compulsory.
The spirited debate provided insight from local research and at times with humour which was appreciated by the audience that included Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith and Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron V. Walwyn.
Lawrence Kirton Wheatley and Revvone White built their proposition arguments as a journey away from the normal path of five years and explore the possibilities that come with an additional year for secondary school.
Wheatley argued the approach of an additional year obtains in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. He shared that the age for compulsory education is currently 16, but pointed out that he will graduate three months short of the age of 16 and in the eyes of the law, he is still a child.
He posited that students are leaving school too early and this has resulted in high unemployment and crime rates. Under the current system, Wheatley stated students are being set up for failure as many of them are leaving secondary school with basic grammar, math and English.
He stated that many business owners have lamented that students are not leaving school with the required life skills.
BFEC's Kadijah Roberts opened her team's debate and made it clear from the onset that they believe the additional year should be optional. She pointed out that more time in high school does not equate to better performance, an additional year will be too costly and the fact that HLSCC has programs to assist persons considered weak when they leave high school.
Roberts stated that five years is ample time to take advantage of education since most of "our forefathers did it in five years".
She stated that parents will be saddled with the expenses of caring for their children an additional year when those children could be out working.
Roberts also spoke about the need for space in the secondary schools to house students as a result of the additional year and asked where the money would come from to fund the building of new classrooms.
Instead of an additional year, Roberts suggested that officials look at improving teaching methods and make provisions to help parents.
Claudia Creque's Revvone White provided statistics from his school where 90% of the teachers believe that the additional year was needed. He quoted that the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. He suggested that the extra year could include extensive job training period and other mechanisms that will better prepare students for the world.
However, Johanna Gibson, who was adjudged the best speaker of the debate, added another dimension by pointing out that an additional year will only peg back those high achievers who have already sat CXC in fourth form and students who have enrolled in HLSCC while in fifth form.
"Are we asking our high achievers to sit back and accommodate those students who cannot reach the minimum requirement?" Gibson asked. She stated that an additional year will also increase the dropout rate as some students do not see the benefit of school and would be frustrated by the additional year.
She pointed out that there are programs in place to cater for slow learners such as the BVI Technical and Vocational Institute and the many pre-college courses offered by HLSCC.
Both teams appeared to have come up short in their rebuttals and the judges pointed out that this is where points are won.
The 2013 debate, which was one of the highlights for Education Week, also included participation from St. Georges School Secondary Division, Elmore Stoutt High school, Seventh Day Adventist School and Cedar International School.